From the Top of the Energy Watershed: Gasland 2

The first SustainFloyd movie of the Fall season will be Gasland 2, showing at the Floyd Country Store on Sunday, September 28.

The Floyd community recently watched together the premier showing of the Floyd County water documentary, To The Last Drop. The timing was a nice fit with our concerns about the water consequences of the proposed natural gas pipeline.

In a similar way, Josh Fox’s sequel about the natural gas fracking industry and its impact on people and planet extends the discussion of our concerns about the possible intrusion across our county of a massive, interstate natural gas pipeline. Fracking happens upstream. And these days, it seems all of us in the East live downstream of this flood of unconventional carbon.

The gas in the so-called Mountain-Valley pipe across southwest Virginia would be the product of deep-well horizontally-drilled hydraulically fractured methane from the Marcellus or Utica shale plays, with all of its attendant water, air and social impacts.

Around the planet, fracking is increasingly being seen as too high a price to pay for “cheap, clean and abundant energy”–since each of these claims don’t hold up to careful scrutiny.

The direction of our energy policy takes now is a “watershed” collective choice made at a most critical time in humanity’s short and brutish span on Earth. The future will flow one of two ways.

Can we resolve as Americans to intentionally shrink our family energy, water, and natural resource footprint? Why is individual conservation not a part of our plan to bridge the gap between fossil fuels and what comes next?

Is ENOUGH far less than what we’ve come to demand and expect and take in the now, regardless of the effect of our consumption some where and some when else?

Watershed: The future can go two ways from this point.

We can maximize for efficiency and profitability and continue business as usual or we can adopt a triple-bottom-line economy and measure true and sustainable well-being instead of GDP as a gauge to our national health.

The choice is ours, but time is running out. Mining and burning all the methane–to the last drop–is an outcome we condone by our silence and inaction or reject by making our voices heard. Drill baby drill is the path we’re on. Is it a dead end?

The issue of fracking brings all those issues from deep underground and onto the surface for us to look at together.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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